Did Lee Harvey Oswald really assassinate President John F. Kennedy? Did the United States really land on the moon? There are conspiracy theories associated with almost all aspects of our culture.
The question is, do you believe them?
“Before I even start to think about believing a conspiracy theory, I always look at the cold facts,” says junior Lauren Hager, “It’s really important that you, yourself, have already done research into it before you even start to believe any of them. It needs to be based on evidence that comes from a reliable source.”
According to assistant professor of social studies and government Stephen Raines, conspiracy theories run the whole gamut of human experience. When it comes to political conspiracies, Raines says historically, people will say the government lied to us in the history books.
“One man said history is a collection of lies commonly agreed upon. I can’t be quite cynical, but it’s always possible that there are some facts unknown to us,” says Raines. “The political conspirators say [the government] are out to get us.”
Raines says typically when a person declines to vote or to get involved in politics it’s because they are indifferent and think ‘Big Brother’ or whoever the opposition is, is pulling the strings like we’re a bunch of puppets. And he says when you hear about a thing taking place that no one else saw coming, very often that sort of conspiracist will say, ‘Well that’s just evidence.’
Assistant professor of history Blake Duffield says he tries to avoid conspiracy theories like the plague.
“Most of the time, for anybody that’s paying attention, conspiracy theories are utter nonsense and it should be clear to the general public that they are,” says Duffield,
Raines says the longer people live, stranger conspiracies are heard, some might be humorous, but others might have something behind them.
“There is a saying that says before you strive to be understood, make sure that you understand,” said Raines. “You want to have an open mind, but you don’t want a hole in your head. There’s wisdom in knowing the difference.”
Photo illustration by Haley Lingenfelter